'US secretly freeing Afghan detainees'

'US secretly freeing Afghan detainees'

The US has been secretly releasing detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, The Washington Post reported in its Monday editions.

The “strategic release” program has allowed American officials over the past several years to use prisoners as bargaining chips to reduce violence in restive provinces, it said, citing US officials who it said spoke on condition of anonymity.

The freed detainees are often fighters who would not be released under the legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence, the report said. Officials would not say whether those who have been released have later returned to attack US and Afghan troops, the report said.

Releases have come amid efforts to end the war through negotiation, which is central to the Obama administration’s strategy for exiting Afghanistan, it added.

Those efforts have yielded little to no progress in recent years. In part, they have been stymied by the unwillingness of the United States to release five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay — a gesture insurgent leaders have said they see as a precondition for peace talks, the report said.

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